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How a wannabe warrior from a pub to a leading role played in a main UFC event

Then ‘The Hangman’ Hooker plans to celebrate Sunday’s winning UFC Fight Night 168 at The Brit in Auckland, the pub where he dug out less than ten years ago.

The 30-year-old does not need to be told that modern martial arts can bring a man from rags to wealth; he lives the story day after day.

“I am well aware of the opportunities that lie ahead,” Hooker briefly describes his situation as he prepares for the newspaper match against the sixth American Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder.

Hooker and wife Isabella. The couple shares a one-year-old daughter named Zoey, born in August 2018

Hooker and wife Isabella. The couple shares a one-year-old daughter named Zoey, born in August 2018

Hooker (right) is preparing for a head-bolt against sixth ranked American Paul 'The Irish Dragon' Felder (left)

Hooker (right) is preparing for a head-bolt against sixth ranked American Paul 'The Irish Dragon' Felder (left)

Hooker (right) is preparing for a head-bolt against sixth ranked American Paul ‘The Irish Dragon’ Felder (left)

Dan 'The Hangman' Hooker (photo) is planning to celebrate Sunday's winning UFC Fight Night 168 at The Brit in Auckland, the pub where he threw up less than ten years ago

Dan 'The Hangman' Hooker (photo) is planning to celebrate Sunday's winning UFC Fight Night 168 at The Brit in Auckland, the pub where he threw up less than ten years ago

Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker (photo) is planning to celebrate Sunday’s winning UFC Fight Night 168 at The Brit in Auckland, the pub where he threw up less than ten years ago

Paul Felder poses on the scale during the UFC weighing in Spark Arena

Paul Felder poses on the scale during the UFC weighing in Spark Arena

Paul Felder poses on the scale during the UFC weighing in Spark Arena

Although MMA hunters keep the finances close to their crates, The Sports Daily had determined last year that Hooker had earned about US $ 1 million from a career that is now on the verge of being a superstar – and massive paydays.

The UFC can afford to spend huge sums on its stars because it is supported by its own estimated value of around US $ 7 billion.

If the seventh ranked lightweight defeats Hooker Felder, he has to fight a top five enemy, and that’s where the money gets serious.

The Irish sensation Conor “Notorious” McGregor is at three and is worth around US $ 110 million, while the Russian title holder Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov is estimated to be worth US $ 6 million.

“The winner of this fight has a top five opponent and the lightweight division of the UFC is the most stacked division in the sport,” says Hooker.

“I am looking forward to winning and I am looking forward to getting one of these big wigs in the division.”

Then “The Hangman” Hooker plans to celebrate a UFC victory in the pub where he used to work

Hooker is the seventh ranked lightweight in the UFC and a win in Sunday's game against American Paul Felder brings him a fight with a top five enemy and a serious paycheck. Depicted with wife Isabella and daughter Zoey after a fight

Hooker is the seventh ranked lightweight in the UFC and a win in Sunday's game against American Paul Felder brings him a fight with a top five enemy and a serious paycheck. Depicted with wife Isabella and daughter Zoey after a fight

Hooker is the seventh ranked lightweight in the UFC and a win in Sunday’s game against American Paul Felder brings him a fight with a top five enemy and a serious paycheck. Depicted with wife Isabella and daughter Zoey after a fight

If everything goes according to plan on Sunday, Hooker and his entourage pull in tow to the nearby pub The Brit, to have champagne corks burst there and to sniff the admiration and the various other loot that go to the victor.

What is not lost on Hooker, however, is the fact that he worked at De Brit less than a decade ago as a bouncer, picked up the used glasses and did the rounds of the floors while he fought to make ends meet while dreaming to decorate the biggest podium of the sport.

“My whole history will surround me,” says 30-year-old Hooker. “It has been a long way, being one of the first in the UFC in the region and with enough grit to stick it out when things got tough. I have grown and developed. That’s the scariest thing about it. Not many people. “

Hooker worked shifts in a factory that cut marble for kitchens in 2012 when his first major breakthrough came. It was a phone call from Hong Kong with what he thought was a fortune – $ 1,000 per fight. He immediately threw in the factory work.

Hooker enjoys quality time with his daughter Zoey in between training sessions for his big fight

Hooker enjoys quality time with his daughter Zoey in between training sessions for his big fight

Hooker enjoys quality time with his daughter Zoey in between training sessions for his big fight

“But I soon found out that you can’t eat 1000 dollars for two months. I don’t know what I thought, “he laughs.

So Hooker worked like a bouncer as he made his way up through the domestic scene in New Zealand and Asia before the UFC call came in 2014.

The move gave Hooker the chance to secure the financial future for both himself and the family he would soon start with his wife and old sweetheart Isabella. The couple welcomed baby daughter Zoey to the world in August 2018.

“When I entered the UFC, I knew it was a bit early, so I knew I had to develop and grow as a hunter, and I just kept doing that,” he says.

“You come on stage like a hunter – and any veteran, anyone who has been around for a long time, will tell you – that you are no longer afraid of fighting someone. That is where I am. “

Hooker is one of a growing group of Australasian hunters who cash in on their success in the UFC.

Aussie Alexander ‘The Great’ Volkanovski is the current champion of the featherweight, while New Zealand’s ‘The Last Stylebender’ Adesanya currently rules the middleweight.

Both won their titles in the last six months and both are ready for big reward days as headliners.

Even those fighters who are not currently supported by the organization have been able to change the course of their careers – and the lives of their families – after registering with the sports giants based in Las Vegas.

Again, while the UFC plays its payment cards close to its chest, Forbes has estimated that fighters can win up to $ 500,000 for a win – and another US $ 50,000 for a “fight of the night” bonus – and most fighters are aiming for three periods per year.

UFC Fight Night 168 starts on Sunday at 8.30 am and can be streamed live on Fox Sports and on Kayo.

Hooker during an open training for fans and media during the UFC Fight Night Open Workouts on Thursday in Auckland

Hooker during an open training for fans and media during the UFC Fight Night Open Workouts on Thursday in Auckland

Hooker during an open training for fans and media during the UFC Fight Night Open Workouts on Thursday in Auckland

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